Awareness Months: Why Are They Put Aside?

Several awareness months are strongly commemorated, while others are overlooked.

Sage P.

Several awareness months are strongly commemorated, while others are overlooked.

Addison J. and Hayden H.

You crawl out of bed on a typical weekday morning and begin getting dressed, aware that today is a spirit day. The purpose? To raise awareness about breast cancer, which affects hundreds of thousands of women worldwide, everyone joins in to wear pink.

No doubt that this day is meaningful. But why do we commemorate a small number of awareness months when there are countless others?

Awareness months help draw attention to conditions and problems that affect millions of people. All of them carry some level of significance, yet we only acknowledge a small number of them. So how do we work harder to show survivors of other issues the respect that they deserve?

“It’s important to have the support that people need, and it’s important to highlight different types of diseases,” said Day Creek Intermediate eighth-grader Layla Gonzalez.

Yet numerous other significant issues are ignored. While pink attire blanketed the campus in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2022 there wasn’t even a mention of Alcohol Awareness Month in April 2022.

“I feel like we can have multiple awarenesses combined into one month. We can celebrate and bring awareness to them and do charities and donations,” said 6th grader, Kasha L.

The idea of celebrating multiple subjects in one month could be beneficial, yet it’d also be overwhelming. Although it is possible for us to do different colors for different topics or tributes, it would be very challenging to encourage students to participate.

At some point someone commentated on each of these ‘awareness months’, but the calendar became too cumbersome, and the list was narrowed to the most common issues. Every year, there are different ideas to recognize. In 2022 there were about 130. Would it be possible to honor all of them?

One potential subject that’s relevant today may be Mental Health Awareness Month, created in 1949 by the MHA (Mental Health America) organization. Their intent is to improve the understanding of mental health conditions and increase therapeutic support for those in need. Yet this awareness day and dozens of others have failed to gain public consciousness.

“[The only awareness months I know are] Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Suicide Prevention Month,” said Gianna C, a 6th-grade student.

The Howl found a similar response throughout the campus, that most students are only aware of one or two awareness months, a far cry from the 130 awareness issues commemorated each year.

“[Most issues aren’t acknowledged since they’re] things that not many people have, so they’re not really an issue,” Gianna said.

Although this may be true, there are significant concerns that aren’t recognized, and others worthy of their own awareness month that haven’t yet made the yearly calendar.

Another idea is to welcome students who have experienced or know someone who has experienced these illnesses or issues, to meet together to honor that awareness month. If few people need to acknowledge something each month, it’d be more impactful if the event were designed for those it had affected.

But what if everyone should be aware of events that are easily buried in a very busy calendar?

“Black Lives Matter Month brings out the black community, and it shows that they have a voice too,” Kasha L. said.

And that’s the balance that our campus needs to find. People should learn about major awareness months, but who defines what those are?

Some might argue that each of them are equally important, but we often gravitate toward those that acknowledge common illness and disease survivors. Breast Cancer Awareness regularly makes that list. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “In 2022, an estimated 287,500 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S,” During certain awareness months, individuals from different ethnicities and genders unite to fight against common illnesses.

With so many options and not enough time for true commemoration, why continue with them at all? If everyone were to recognize all topics, it would lead to a very monotone environment.

“It’d be really boring to have to recognize every awareness month,” said Hector M. “They would no longer have a purpose.”